Rapid prototyping

Designing, developing applications and softwares in the fast paced, interactive world calls for a adopting, highly visual and iterative approaches in delivering solutions. ‘Picture says it all’ we all agree, so do developers swear by and adopt Rapid Prototyping as one of the primary project development processes hence.

Rapid Prototyping is all about employing visuals to reflect the future design and solution, how a system would look like and perform. In the nutshell, it is an iterative process which quickly simulates application, software system and solicit feedback from stakeholders to enhance final outcome.

A prototype could be anything from a bare sketch to visually appealing and interactive simulation which functions just like the desired one. Creating a successful rapid prototyping is all dependent on selecting the right approach and revisiting it quickly based on feedbacks. The process, helps team in experimenting various ideas, facilitating receipt of constructive feedback based on visuals. It makes sure that stakeholders zero down on a common understanding faster; generating innovative, better and custom designs.

Willing to discover, how rapid prototyping gets implemented?

See how we do it at Galaxy Weblinks.

THE PROCESS

Rapid Prototyping is typically a three step process:
1.Prototype: Transforming client requirements, descriptions of the solutions into mock-ups, utilising standards and practices.
2.Review: Sharing the mockup, simulation with clients and assessing whether it meets the requirements.
3.Refine: Improving, enhancing and amending the solution based on feedback received.

DEFINING SCOPE OF PROTOTYPING

The intent of prototyping created at Galaxy Web Links, is to help user experience the final solution. However, it often conjures with fully functioning version of the solution. Hence, it becomes important to decide on key issues before starting off with prototyping.

What is to be prototyped?

This remains one of the worthy concerns for our developers to ponder on. A good prototype can include interactions, functionalities, workflow enough to give a fair idea of the operability, visual appearance and add ons in a clear manner.

How much of it is sufficient?

The Pareto’s 80:20 principle comes in handy for this. Focus on important functionalities, work on those 20% of features that gets employed in 80% of cases. Keep in mind – the prototype reflects how final product would be, without showcasing the final one.

Planning Iterations

A prototype is usually planned and built in a stepwise manner. An acceptable and preferred approach followed by us, is to start prototyping broadly then go deep down in areas left before.

For instance, a mobile application prototype initially could have main page and navigations to main landing sections. Subsequently, in the next level, this could go down to other pages of apps with features, options or how it reflect once a user creates a login.

Choosing Fidelity

Visual fidelity (sketched / styled)

Visuals are the most crucial dimension of a prototype’s fidelity and affects immensely the client reviews or feedback. A prototype may not be pixel perfect in the early stages of development, rather it must focus on functionalities and navigations. Steadily, as project development takes place, further iterations are weaved in with increased visual fidelity having elements: color, branding and graphics.

Functional fidelity (static/ interactive)

It is the degree of interactivity included in the prototype. A prototype can have static instructions like how clicking an option would work or could actually respond to the user input (interactive). Although this doesn’t remain a major criteria for our users, but we add interactivity with each successive iterations permitting usability testing in a effective manner along with communication.

Content fidelity (lorem ipsum/ real content)

Content remains another prime factor while planning prototype. At the onset of project development, squiggly lines or dummy text are taken in. However, this gets replaced with actual content as project progresses, helping developers identify, how text would affect the overall design.

LEVELS OF PROTOTYPING

Low:

Agile in nature, this one is ideal for rapid prototyping especially for brainstorming sessions and arguably, the fastest way to get on with prototypes. It lets you create a sketch right on paper without much of technical cliches involved. It allows to accommodate alteration effortlessly and encourages our users to emphasize more on functions with less focus on visuals.

low fidelity

These prototypes are static in nature and gives designers, scope to amend based on feedbacks.

Medium:

Chosen over when developer wants to reflect the actual behaviour of solution, this one is suited to assess whether the user requirements are fulfilled and ensure optimal user experience. With medium prototyping, focus on application; behaviour, color, brand, style remains at bay for prototypers. The softwares Visio, Omnigraffle comes are employable for this fidelity level.

Wireframe

Wireframes and scenarios created through this involves more time but definitely looks refined and functional fidelity gets reflected by linking pages here. These prototypes are best suited to assess if user requirements are met or not.

Despite its advantages, the medium fidelity prototyping at times, may not look like one, as stencils utilised to create prototype makes look like low fidelity one and makes user perceive it like a work in progress rather than final product simulation.

High:

This is the most realistic and often misunderstood as the final product. Packed with deep usability testing, high fidelity is opted to give a realistic look, a simulation of what and how will the product be. High fidelity prototypes are apt when high usual and functional fidelity is the need of hour and are quite useful for testing and training purposes.

High fidelity

Softwares like Axure and iRise are some of the application tools with high utility that gets employed here. These application simulation tools allows users to create high fidelity prototypes, unlike in past where developers and designers would collaborate to code using a programming language and then create a prototype.

KEY BENEFITS

Having understood the nittie-gritties of this process. Let’s try to capture its advantages:
-Helps to evaluate proposal of design in a better manner.
-Iterative approach helps improve product while it gets developed.
-Enhanced productivity, facilitates generation of prototypes instantaneously.
-Shows users how it will look like.
-Offers scope of providing feedback early and make any major changes.
-Better collaboration between users and developers.
-Enables designers in experimenting with different ideas and approaches.
-Improved final product.

Utilising prototyping as part of product development process helps negate risks of rejection at later stages. The process resembles Intervention Design, which results in a superior and adoptable results. After all, pilot tests remain promising option which allows companies enhance ROI and user experiences.

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